Thessaloniki Mayor Boutaris Gets Kudos In Canada

Boutaris_Canada“This Greek hero slays monsters of the fiscal variety” is a story in the Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail about the Lefitst Mayor of Thessaloniki, Yiannis Boutaris, 71, who has relatives in Toronto.

As a result of his work “Thessaloniki is Greece’s second-biggest city and one of the few with a balanced budget,” the piece by reporter Eric Reguly notes.

Reguly talks about Boutaris’ attempts to bring order to city’s finances after he ended the career of his predecessor, Vasilis Papageorgopoulos, who was sent to prison in one of Greece’s biggest corruption case. “We had to help the city get some economic movement,” he said. According to the article, thanks to his wine-making activity he developed instincts on financial matters which helped him in government.

The mayor’s attempts to deal with unemployment are detailed as well as tourism development in his city, that used to be called “the Jerusalem of the Balkans,” because of its Jewish, Ottoman and Turkish population. Boutaris said he wants to attract Israeli and Turkish tourists and more than 50,000 came last year.

As Boutaris says: “Tourism alone won’t fix Thessaloniki. The budget had to be balanced and that meant taking a cleaver to expenses and collecting unpaid taxes.” He adds: “To be sure, Thessaloniki still has enormous problems. The streets are dirty because garbage collection is a mess. Traffic is a nightmare.”